This years Liberation memorial service and afternoon tea will be held at the War Tunnels. Sunday 28th April 2019 Commencing at 15.00

Welcome – Clive Armstrong, Chairman

On behalf of the St Helier Bad Wurzach Partnerschaft, we welcome you Mr Bailiff, former internees, ladies and gentlemen to the 74th Internee anniversary.

At about 12.45 today marked the 74th anniversary of when tanks started rolling down the Memminger Strasse and onto the Marktstraße, parking up in front of the Rathaus (Town Hall) situated opposite the Schloss Wurzach where, for the previous 2½ years approximately 650 lslanders had been held prisoner, today we are here to celebrate this event in Our Islands History, and to remember those who did not return and those who did return but are sadly no longer with us.

Internment reading

The text is from “A Jersey Child Interned by Hitler Gloria’s Story” by Susan Symons 2018 and “Three years behind barbed wire”  by Joan Coles 1985

Tuesday 15th September 1942

A notice appears in the local paper.

By Order of higher authorities, the following British Subjects will be evacuated and transferred to Germany.

  1. Persons who have their permanent residence not on the Channel Islands, for instance those who have been caught here by the outbreak of war.
  2. All those men not born on the Channel Islands and of 16 to 70 years of age who belong to the English people, together with their families

Detail instructions will be given by the Feldkommandantur 515.

Wednesday 16 September 1942

At two o’clock in the early hours of the morning, there was a knock on the door of ten-year-old Gloria Webber’s home in Jersey. The caller was a local official and had come to deliver bad news. Her entire family, parents and five young children, were on a list of Jersey residents to be deported by the German occupying forces. The deportation order was effective immediately and they had to be at St Helier harbour, ready to leave, by four o’clock that same afternoon. Gloria and her siblings, along with of other Jersey children, would lose the next years of their childhood interned on the orders of Hitler in an old castle in the south of Germany, called Schloss Wurzach.

Thursday 15th September 1942 the deportation was delayed

FRIDAY 18 September 1942:

We left Jersey. After a calm crossing under a beautiful moonlit sky, we reached St. Malo at 7 o’clock next morning. A glorious dawn broke as we docked the old fortified town was silhouetted against the morning sunrise. After much waiting on the ship we boarded the train at 10. 15 a. m.  actually, leaving the station at 1.50 p. m. This train was to be our home for nearly three days, but this of course we did not know!

Service of Remembrance – Deacon Iain MacFirbhisigh

Reading – Former internee Francelise Davison

Readings by members of the Jersey Arts Centre youththeatre

Tamsin Hollyman – reading ‘1980’ by Abraham Sutzkever

Mac Galvin – reading ‘On Hearing A Name Long Unspoken’ by Leonard Cohen

Gen Hargreaves – reading ‘The Bridge Builder’ by Will Allen Dromgoole

Life in the camp Reading – Former internee Mrs Lola Garvin

Names of Those who did not return – Clive Armstrong

A Minute’s Silence for reflection – Deacon Iain MacFirbhisigh

Liberation reading – Clive Armstrong

The text is from “Three years behind barbed wire”  by Joan Coles 1985

FRIDAY 27 April 1945

After a night of intermittent gun-fire from the hills around this place, the morning came with sunshine and a south-west wind. Guns were still firing in the north-west. In the south-west smoke clouds could be seen rising from the forests and these gradually appeared to come closer. By 10. 30 p.m.; We returned to bed once more and all is quiet on the Wurzach front, the troops seemed to have by-passed the village

SATURDAY 28 April 1945

After a quiet night, the dawn broke with glorious sunshine, “whirring noises, indiscernible from the Schloss could be heard all morning.

At about 12.45 internees were standing at the windows facing south-west when a shout went up. Some Volksturmers had run into the road with the white flag, on the horizon in a field to the right of this road, appeared the first tank to relieve Wurzach !  This sighting will always be etched on my mind, and the tank contained the first of our French liberators!

It rained a gentle shower as we stood, as a family, we watched the large tanks park beneath the low eaves of the village houses. Alongside of us were elderly Germans, in tears, as we were, thankful at a safe deliverance.

About 40 tanks cars etc., passed through this village without a shot being fired on it. At the Rathaus (Town Hall) the French Commander halted and German guards from the Schloss came out of the guard-house and gave themselves up. Some members of the S.S. were also arrested and with the guards were placed against the Rathaus wall where they were “covered” with guns. After a count they were placed on top of the first tank and driven away.

Many incidents were witnessed by the internees who greeted the tanks as they lined up in the streets. These tanks were named after towns, ports, etc., in France and we saw one marked St. Malo and greeted the occupants with many handshakes.

At first the troops many of them North Africans were very reluctant to open their little ‘portholes’ but, when it was explained that we were “Anglais” and interned “dans la grand maison” they beamed with smiles and shook hands all round.

To see the gates broken down and kicked away, was a great sight and witnessed by many of us. It was also photographed by the entering troops who were fallen on and kissed, patted on the back and hand-shaken all round.

Previous to all this the French Commander had came up to the barbed wire in front of the Camp and said:-

“You are free”!!!!

Closing Prayer– Deacon Iain MacFirbhisigh